Aussie cartoonist slammed over ‘racist’ portrayal of Serena Williams

SYDNEY: An Australian cartoonist faced criticism yesterday for portraying tennis superstar Serena Williams using what Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling described as "racist and sexist tropes".

Mr Mark Knight's caricature, in Melbourne's Herald Sun on Monday, shows a fat-lipped Williams throwing a tantrum at the US Open.

While losing Saturday's final to Japan's Naomi Osaka, Williams smashed her racket and called the umpire a "thief" and "liar".

In the cartoon, Williams is jumping up and down as the umpire asks Osaka, "Can you just let her win?"

Mr Knight, who has a reputation for controversial cartoons, was pilloried for his portrayal.

He responded to the criticism by pointing out he had drawn an unflattering portrayal of Australian male tennis star Nick Kyrgios "behaving badly".

"Don't bring gender into it when it's all about behaviour."

Mr Michael Miller, executive chairman of News Corp Australasia, which publishes the Herald Sun, defended the cartoonist, saying the world "misunderstands the role of news media cartoons and satire".

Commentator Michael Cavna of The Washington Post said "Knight draws facial features reflecting the dehumanising Jim Crow caricatures common in the 19th and 20th centuries", the era of segregation.

Other US media pointed out that Osaka was portrayed as petite and feminine with blonde straight hair - in real life she has dark curly hair with blonde streaks and is taller than Williams. - AFP